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Current Literature

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1247, p. 239.

March 5, 1864

CURRENT LITERATURE.

...Soundings from the Atlantic. By O. W. Holmes. (1 vol. Sampson Low, Son, and Marston.) The "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" needs introduction to (we should hope) very few English readers; and a fresh volume from his pen will, no doubt, find a cordial welcome. The nine essays and one oration now offered in a compact form for public perusal combine, after the author's fashion, fun and serious reflections, and are written in a style which makes them more than commonly readable. The awful war now raging amongst our Transatlantic kinsmen naturally forms one of the topics which Mr. Holmes undertakes to handle; and in the oration appended to his other compositions, with the title of "The Inevitable Trial," he discusses at some length the origin, the progress, and the probable result of the great struggle. This is not the place to follow him step by step, but it is compatible with our province to announce that he does not despair of the Republic.

Dan to Beersheba. (1 vol. Chapman and Hall.) A supplementary or, more correctly speaking, an explanatory title is given to this singular book--the alias is "Northern and Southern Friends." We began to read with an impression that the American civil war would furnish the groundwork of the story; but it was not so. Nor is there any satisfactory explanation given of the scriptural title; so that, as we failed to find either Dan or Beersheba upon the only map of America we happen to possess, we were constrained to guess from the hints furnished by the narrative that Dan is, being interpreted, Boston, and Beersheba, Charleston; for Northern friends from the capital of Massachusetts go upon a visit to Southern friends in the capital of the Palmetto State, and there are no other fixed points which the most elastic imagination could comfortably fasten upon as corresponding in position with Dan and Beersheba. The writer's object, we apprehend, is to sketch the habits and manners of both Northern and Southern Americans; and the conclusion we arrived at from the specimens given was that both are almost equally objectionable. There is no attempt at plot. Flirtations, and arguments, and dances, and revels, and slave crimes, and slave-hunts and their attendant horrors (including anti-slavery meetings and speeches, and pro-slavery brutality) follow one another with true American independence; and the ultimate bliss even of the hero and heroine (to strain the time-honoured terms) is left to mere conjecture. On the whole, the writer, though distributing ugly features with tolerable impartiality, seems to incline just a little to the Northern side, for which the tendency of Southern ladies (according to the author's representation) to treat lovers slightingly and to sing improper songs, and of Southern gentlemen to propose to ladies under extraordinary circumstances and in Bedlamite language, is sufficient to account.

My Days and Nights on the Battle-field. By Carleton. (1 vol. Sampson Low, Son, and Marston.) This is a little work, intended chiefly for boys, giving some account (accompanied by diagrams) of several of the more important engagements between Federals and Confederates in the earlier part of the present war. A sketch of later battles is conditionally promised. The style is somewhat bombastic and the spirit is intensely Union.

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